SEAFORD — It could’ve been better.
It could’ve been worse.
“Mask up” was the theme on the first day of school for all students in the Seaford School District on Tuesday.
Sophomore Cameron Hastings was eager to get back to five-day-a-week, in-person classes following the remote/hybrid model brought on by the pandemic in the 2020-21 year.
“I’m glad it’s open and it’s not on remote because it was very confusing for me. I am just glad to be back at school,” he said.
Cameron said he doesn’t mind wearing a mask. “It never really bothered me. I have to deal with it at work (at the Seaford Arby’s), and I have to deal with it here. It’s all right,” he added.
Echoing that was sophomore Logan Meredith.
“Last year, it was confusing because of all the computers and stuff,” Logan said. “I am glad we are coming in this year. I just didn’t do good last year. But somehow, I passed. I had to go to summer school. And I’m just used to the mask.”
All public school districts in Delaware are beginning the new academic year under a mask mandate imposed by Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Department of Education. It requires that students kindergarten-age and older in K-12 schools and child care centers to wear face coverings while inside, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
“I don’t really care for the mask,” said Seaford freshman De’Mya Doman on Tuesday. “I mean, I am cool with wearing it. It’s difficult to hear and everything. But it’s fine, for safety and everything.”
Sophomore Taiyanna Smith added, “I feel like it’s better for us. It’s all right.”
The mask rule has stirred opposition in some school districts. However, it’s not a big deal in Seaford, said the district’s Public Information Director Jason Cameron.
“Of course, you always plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Mr. Cameron said Tuesday. “Through the open houses last week and the meet-and-greets last week and through yesterday and today, we have not had any issues with the masks.”
Masks were made available to students arriving without them at school entrances in Seaford.
“Any ones we have handed out was because they didn’t have one. There was no refusing or anything like that,” Mr. Cameron said. “It says a lot about our community and our kids. They want to be here, and even though it’s (masks) not optional, they are excited to be back in the building.”
On his skateboard, Christopher Krumm rolled into the new year as a repeat sophomore.
“Tenth this year, the same as last year,” he said. “It was the computers. My brain wasn’t working with it. I have to repeat all of 10th grade.”
Christopher is hoping for better success in 2021-22 with full in-class instruction and possibly working extra next year to be able to graduate on schedule.
“It will be better than last year, that’s for sure. Next year, I should be able to double up and finish out with everyone else,” he said. “But I don’t think it will go back to how it was (pre-COVID-19). It is definitely going to be different, just from everything that is going on right now and still trying to transition back from last year.”
On Monday, Seaford students in pre-K/kindergarten, third, sixth and ninth grades had schools all to themselves during the district’s transition day, designed to acclimate students entering new buildings.
The district on Tuesday expected to welcome approximately 3,350 students, up from 3,278 in 2020-21.
“It is going to be pretty interesting and terrifying at the same time,” said De’Mya. “I mean all the teachers were nice yesterday. But, like, now that it’s an official day, it’s going to be … weird.”
The Seaford district plans to give students and staff a chance to catch their breath, aside from lunch and recess. That includes brief walks outside sans masks.
“They are giving mask breaks,” Mr. Cameron said. “We are trying to do everything we can to help that. We realize it is a long time to ask students and folks to have masks on. So there are different things that are planned on the course of the day.
“It has been a lot of work to get back,” he added. “But we are excited to have our students back where they belong, in school five days a week.”